Low Impact Life

have less, do more, be more

Author: Ms. LIL (Page 1 of 62)

How I became a frugal weirdo

Reading a post on the Frugalwoods blog about being a frugal weirdo and loving it made me reflect on my own path and how I ended up where I am today: a frugal weirdo and proud! (spoiler: it’s very linked with being an environmentalist)

Let’s start off with the statement I’ve never been one of the “cool” girls in school. As a child I spent most my weekends on a boat in the archipelago exploring islands, playing games with my family, reading books and writing my own stories (still a dream of mine to actually finish one). I am pretty nerdy when it comes to books (don’t get me started on Harry Potter!) and have always had a strong passion for nature and animals. Being outside wether it was sailing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, skiing, skating or just playing outdoors was a natural part of my childhood. When I was little I first wanted to be a wildlife photographer and then a vet (until I realized that I have a problem dealing with blood and injured animals…). When the vet dream died I got into environmental science and the huge challenges that we as humans face today (read more here). I wrote my 9th grade project about the problem with too much nitrogen in the Baltic sea that is disturbing the ecological balance.

one cool sailor right there 😉

From there on my passion for the environment grew although I made few changes to my life at this stage (I was 16 and trying to fit in and going shopping after school was a common activity with friends). After high school I worked at a kindergarten for 6 months to save money to study one semester abroad in California. This period was marked by me being extremely frugal and having the mindset that “either I buy this now or I do something cool in California” which made me put down whatever I was going to buy. Worth mentioning is that although I have been quite a shopaholic I have always had the frugal bug. I think it has to do with me not having an extra job when studying until I was 22 which lead to me having to save and make my monthly allowance stretch very far (I must add that I had the privilege of help from my parents although I never took it for granted that I would get money from them).

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

When I was living in California I studied environmental science among other courses, all natural science focused, so my interest continued and I spent a lot of time hiking, skiing and being outdoors (the California climate makes that a bit easier than in Sweden). I watched the documentary Food, Inc and after that I became a vegetarian mostly beacuse of the horrendous situation of the industrialized production of meat.

Having to explain again and again why you don’t eat meat and bring your own food to dinners with people having to deal with depressing discussions with me about the future of the earth was definately the start to me inhabiting the weirdo box. Before this stage I had kept a lot to myself but getting more and more worried about the state of the earth I couldn’t just keep going on like it wasn’t happening.

I studied environmental science at Lund University and though my class all understood the no eating meat (I think half the class were vegetarians) and the environmental problems were old news to them everyone else I hung out with definately though that me and my friends from my class were slightly weird. I kept being frugal during my university years (most people are!) and worked with babysitting children and walking dogs for some extra money. I didn’t take out the full loan that is offered to Swedish students through the government but I have some debt to pay back. I am glad that I did take my loan so I didn’t have to work like crazy while studying (studying in Sweden is quite different compared to other countries – tuition is free, we get money every month from the government, the student loans have really low interest rates).

Graduation from Lund University

When I moved back to Stockholm at 24 I lived with my mum for a year first to write my thesis and then because I didn’t have a permanent contract at my job I couldn’t rent an apartment. This was also a frugal period since I didn’t know if I would have a job the month after and I lived at home. Although I didn’t actively track my money so a fair amount was still went to different purchases like food out, things, travel and so on.

When I started the blog about 1,5 years ago I started properly owning and loving being a weirdo. Before that I had kind of been trying to hide my weirdness (and failing) and trying to fit in somewhat. I wasn’t being true to myself and the knowledge that I was carrying about how we are treating the planet that we live on and especially how I was contributing to it. Because of that I was feeling quite a bit of despair, guilt and sorrow. Now that I am alined with my values of a Low Impact Life and a frugal lifestyle which have lead to a lot of changes in my life I feel lighter and more at peace with myself. What is even more awesome is that Mr LIL and I share the same values. He is also a frugal person that is worried about the planet. With the support of each other we are taking frugality/LIL to the next step in 2018.

Sisters in the mountains

Our trip to Norway was great! Skiing is really one of my and Mr LILs great passions. It is a special feeling of freedom to fly down the slopes and it is so wonderful to be outside all day.

Yesterday I went to an event that a company called Systrar i Bergen “sisters in the mountains” arranged in the ski slope in Stockholm. The company arranges ski trips and other outdoor activities for girls/women. I signed up in December as a part of my free time resolution of finding new people/connections. It was really fun and a really nice atmosphere. They had ski instructors that gave me some tips and things to think about for our upcoming ski trip in the Alps in March.

Pretty cool to have the city lights in the background

Skiing in Norway

First day of skiing done!! So much snow! We had amazing runs this morning in the black slopes! We brought packed lunch that we ate in a cabin for breaks and getting warm. A very frugal option since the cost of food in a ski resort in expensive Norway is very high! The afternoon was quite cold, windy and white out so at three we felt done for the day.

February Vitality

Since I have been sick quite a lot lately, most of December and again now in January I am quite tired of feeling unwell! I haven’t been able to exercise or have the energy to do much for a long time. Now I am hoping that it will be better from here. One thing being sick does is create appreciation for being healthy. So I am going to harness this the coming month and really appreciate my body and health.

My focus for February is getting back on track with my vitality resolutions. Especially exercise, being outdoors and also sticking to my diet. My nightly routine is pretty much set, it just needs small adjustments.

I want to start exercising slowly with the exception of skiing (I’m going skiing in Norway Thursday-Sunday this week). I want to start taking 15 min walks at lunch time and will start doing my weight lifting routine with easy weights and slowly working myself up to my old weights. I think the mental challenge of not going to quickly will be the hardest (I like seeing progress quickly).

As for diet I will stick strictly to my eating for a healthy life plan and reduce the amount of gluten free carbs slightly because I am eating a bit too high percentage at the moment which makes me really hungry in the afternoon.

So those points are my aim for February!

Summary frugal January

January was fairly frugal. I did have two larger expenses that I knew were coming: a spa day with my mum that we gave each other for Christmas/birthday present and paying for our skitrip that’s coming up in March. These I have taken from my fluid savings account that I use for trips, activities and also as a buffer for expenses like dentist and so on. I also invited my girlfriends to a brunch to celebrate my birthday which was a out of the ordinary but other than that spending was low this month. I haven’t done anything special on the frugality front but been focusing on my new job which in turn has lead to not spending much money.

On the front of public transport and lunch connected to my new job I bought a public transport card but have been able to eat lunchboxes every day which I will continue to do! The lunches are the important one since a lunch in town costs a lot of money. The calcualtions: lunch costs around 100kr times 20 which is 2000kr a month. Minus of course around 30kr per homemade lunch box which is 600kr so that equals 1400kr a month saved!

Buying a public transport card cost me 860kr for a month and if I don’t have one I buy tickets that usually land on about 400kr a month so the card cost me an extra 460kr. I still have to fix my bike and it has been really cold and a lot of snow so it has been worth taking the underground so far. I’ll probably buy a card for next month too and then I’ll start biking in March.

The flu

I’ve been lying in bed for the past couple of days with the flu. Came out of nowhere on Wednesday afternoon and then an hour later I had 39 degrees fever. Not very fun. I am thankfully feeling a bit better today. Mr LIL and the LIL wolf are out at the summerplace so I can recouperate by myself and hopefully not get Mr LIL sick too.

My love for the outdoors

Today the weather was amazing so we got up, had breakfast and then took a long walk in the snow with the LIL wolf. She was so happy and bouncing around in the deep snow and since she is a Swedish breed she’s adapted to the snow so it doesn’t stick to her coat.

Me and Mr LIL talked about that both of us had been outside a lot as children, Mr LIL at his summer place in the archipelago and me on our sailing boat. Plus all of the time playing outside during and after school. When we got older and started to decide over our free time (instead of our parents doing it) time outdoors decreased drastically. Obviously getting older meant not going outside to play at break time and instead being indoors all day at school and then coming home and doing homework/studying for tests, watching TV or doing something on the computer.  Even spending time with friends was almost always indoors at peoples homes, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, gyms or sports facilities, bars or night clubs. The only time that you spend any time outdoors with friends is when it is really nice weather during the summer (which in Sweden isn’t that many days a year…). So for a long time the absolute majority of our time was spent indoors. I almost forgot what a huge role being outdoors plays in my life.

Thankfully I have started to find my way back. Mr LIL has played a role in this since we both love the outdoors and can amplify this passion in eachother. But the most dramatic shift has happened since the LIL wolf entered the stage. She is a true blessing and has helped me to rediscover and understand that my whole being CRAVES being outside by “forcing” us to go outside in all weather whether we want to or not. I have also gotten back into the mode of not minding “bad weather” as long as I am dressed for it (therefore I own rain boots, warm gloves, proper rain and winter jackets, rain and ski pants, base layers, fleeces and so on). Being brought up on a sailing boat helps to make you used to the fact that “there isn’t any bad weather just bad clothes” (a Swedish saying that my dad is very fond of).

All of this really sunk in during our walk today. How being outside made me feel. The fresh air in my lungs, the slight warmth of the sun on my face, the calmness and beauty of the white landscape, the joy of watching the LIL wolf running in the snow and also getting to share the moment with Mr LIL. I was utterly content with life. I am so grateful and looking forward to taking hundreds of more walks with Mr LIL and the LIL wolf in the future.

Monthly budget

From tracking our money since August we have gotten a picture of our expenses and been able to get average spending on each post and also how much is possible for us to save. From that I have drawn up a general budget to have in mind during 2018. It’s going to be interesting to see if we can keep to it. Here are the percentages (the light green one is insurance 2,1%):

Savings

Since we want to able to feed our money making machine as much as possible we have a goal of 50% savings rate or more. With this budget we just hit 50 %. If we manage to save more that is great but our base is 50%. In saving we include mortage payment (minus the interest), saving for trips and saving in indexfunds.

Expenses

This category includes mine and Mr LIL own expenses and also our joint ones. For example going to the movies, hygiene products, medicine, activities, presents, stuff for our home, charities and so on.

Living expenses

In this category we include our monthly fee on the apartment, internet, electricity and interest on mortage.

Food & drink

As the heading hints all our food and alcohol that we buy is summed up here (eating out, which we don’t really do any more is included in our own expenses).

Dog

Pets are expensive and if we didn’t have a pet (especially a pet with stomach problems) we would be able to save a lot more. That said we adore the LIL wolf and she fits perfectly into our lives so we don’t regret getting her for one second! Doggy day care is the large part of this category and then food, treats and things that we have had to buy (although that was more when we first got her).

Student loans

Both me and Mr LIL have student loans to pay back. In Sweden universities are free and the loans come with amazing interest rates so most people take the student loan. Mr LIL and I both worked part time when studying but we also took the loans just so that we wouldn’t have to work like crazy to pay our bills and that we actually had some money saved up when we left university. We are paying down this loan slowly since it is better to invest our money instead.

Car

In this category expenses relating to our car is added up (except insurance) like repairs, parking, yearly inspection and tolls. Mr LIL gets milage compensation from his work and since our car is so fuel efficient that also covers our petrol that we use privately.

Insurance

Our joint insurances fall under this category: home, car and pet insurance.

So the plan is to try to keep to this budget so that we will be able to save a sizable part of our income. The thought behind this budget is that we will keep to this even if we get raises so that our savings rate will get higher over time while our expenses will stay the same. This way we’ll avoid lifestyle inflation.

New chapter 2018-2020

It was really exciting to start my new job yesterday! It really feels like a new chapter and the start of the coming three years, 2018-2020.

Me and Mr LIL have decided to plan our life in three year periods (I love planning!!). It is a more managable period to picture than 5 years but also long enough to have some long term goals and the time to achieve them. Since we met three years ago this turn of the year is the end of our first three year period together (read more what we’ve been up to during 2017 in my end of year post here).

So now comes our next three years which will be a quite different period than the one that we’ve had now. The previous period 2015-2017 we worked on setting up the infrastructure for our life these coming three years. It has been full with big decisions ( i.e. buying an apartment and a dog), sorting things out (for me a lot of emotional baggage that was dealt with successfully) and figuring out our goals for our life. The next period will instead be a more stable period where our focus will be on working hard, saving all the money that we can and working out how to spend our free time in a frugal and enjoyable way (long walks with the LIL wolf is definately at the top of that list). Since I am a creature of habit I am looking forward to this period of stability but also knowing that we have large goals ahead planning for them at the same time.

A couple of months after we met in early 2015

 

Thoughts on money

I came across the Prairie Homestead blog not so long ago and read a post about money principles. I thought it was a really good post that touched on simple but core principles of how to think about money. I borrowed her principles and modified them slightly to fit my view on money:

1. AVOID UNNECESSARY DEBT LIKE THE PLAGUE

A part from a mortgage (possibly student debt in Sweden where the interest is really low) do not borrow any other money! Car loans and consumer debt should be avoided at all cost! Concering mortgages: just because you are eligable for a high loan doen’t mean you should buy a home at that price. Instead think of what is the smallest area that you can live comfortably in and not just getting a larger home just because you can get a loan for it.

2. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND

The emergency fund is money that you have readily available in a savings account for when things go sideways (which they do from time to time because life happens). The amount should be approximately 3-6 months expenses. This should be done before paying off your mortgage or investing in your money making machine (although if you have other debt that should be dealt with first becase that is an emergency!).

3. SQUASH THE COMPARISONS

Stop comparing your life to everything around you (Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, advertising, peers and so on…). Figuring out what you want is the most important thing not comparing yourself to others. We don’t see the whole story though social media and buying more things to keep up with the Jonses will only make you broke and not happy.

4. EMBRACE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

You don’t have to have it all at once. Instead build your dream one piece at a time and live within your means.

5. BE MINDFUL OF MONEY

Figure out what actually adds value to your life. Living frugally isn’t about deprivation, quite the opposite. It is about spending your money on the things that you value.

You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want

6. ADOPT AN ABUNDANCE MINDSET

This is a very important principle. Most people have a scarcity mindset where what they have is “never enough”. This leads to dissatisfaction and a lack of gratitude for what you have which in turn impacts everything around you. I have been working hard to incorporate more gratitue and an abundance attitude into my life for the past year which makes for a much more enjoyable life.

 

Page 1 of 62

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén